Mindful Mondays | Suffering: What’s the Point?
Suffering: What’s the point?
By Cheryl Klem, MA, LMFT
The truth is, I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to not kiss my granddaughter or hug my kids and my parents. I don’t want to wear a facemask or not walk on the beach trail or have a houseful of friends over for dinner and game night. This is my heart sometimes and then I am humbled when I receive a prayer request for a friend’s husband in ICU on a ventilator fighting for his life with COVID-19; a job lost by a single mom; a nurse asking for God’s protection as she goes to work every day. This is a time of great suffering, in degrees for sure, but the pain is real.
Like you, I’m sure, I’m not a stranger to pain. I’ve experienced such deep and overwhelming loss and grief that I thought it might take me under. The kind of anguish that Jesus I’m sure felt exponentially in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was falsely accused, mocked, beaten, flogged, nailed to a cross, and left to die. For me. For you.
But this story of death is not how it ends. On the third day after His death, He rises back to life and conquers death once and for all. Emmanuel, “God with us,” came down from heaven to set us free. It was death that brought life and His pain and suffering displayed a love beyond our comprehension. And because of this we can be assured that He knows what it means to writhe and that in our time of pain, through the mystery of what it means to be “in Christ” and to have Christ be “in us,” our hearts can be changed and we can be transformed into His image.
I want that. His image is so much better than mine. He is patient, and kind; full of love, grace, peace, forgiveness. He loves deeply and is always focused on others before Himself.
As I reflect on my life, yes, it has been during those times of pain where I was changed for the good. And as the old saying goes, pain can make you better or it can make you bitter. By the grace of God, it made me better. I want to be better this time too. I want suffering to do its’ work; to make me more like Christ. To look outside myself and see how I can serve others; to be kinder and love more. Not to ask “What is the point of this pain?” but to ask “What is the point in this pain for me in this time?” I will most assuredly find a better answer there.